Shortly after the burial ceremonies, Vulvana interviewed with Entertain Me Magazine: Our technological society offers nothing but self-denial and self-annihilation. Under the leadership of Gerbi Norberg, his mother Norma Butler-Norberg, the medicine man Asawasanay and the village elder Pamequonaishcung, these people have decided to forge their own course. They are returning to the essence of life, the earth itself. They are redefining human progress. They’re throwing away technology, building a society where the family and community are not just political promises.This is a land to which the forgotten people can go, you know, what Victor Hugo called the miserable of the earth, the dispossessed. This is their land. This is where they belong.
In his second year at university, Gerbi was in a rock band, Friendly Fire. Like most bands, they had more energy than talent but were booked almost every weekend in the university bars. Gerbi played bass, sang backing vocals and wrote most of the lyrics.Two crowd favorites were Green Desire (I don’t know what it is I want/ I just know it’s not what I got) and Death Squad Jump (How high can you jump?/ Do you want to die?/ Is this the night to die?/ Do the death squad jump!) Friendly Fire brought a tremendous change to his social life. he was awkward as hell, but he still managed to become a campus slut. His worst moment might have been when he was caught in a hotel room hallway with his track pants down and this girl he had just met pressed up against the wall. He just walked away, never talked to her again.
I wrote copiously, much of it drivel, during and after my cross-country hitchhiking trip in 1983. The only bits worth anything were my notes on what happened – car types, driver descriptions – as scant as they might be, and my expenses:
June 21: Joe Louis & Pepsi ($1.05), 2 milks & water ($0.70), Quarter pounder w/cheese & root beer ($3.50), Auberge des Jeunesse ($5.50), Bottle/red wine ($6.50), Smokes ($1.90) July 16: Donut & OJ ($1.60), Smokes ($2.00), Big cookie ($1.00), Apple ($0.18) , The Return of the Jedi ($5.50), Alphagetti ($1.00)
I met a hippie who everyone called The General. “So I came home last night and there was smoke everywhere, even out in the fucking hallway. So I went into the bedroom and kicked the bed and yelled, ‘Wake up, bitch!’ I asked her where the smoke came from and she said, ‘Out of my camera! Out of the fucking camera!’ Turned out she was cooking bacon and fell asleep. When she left for work the next morning, I yelled after her, “Goodbye, bacon burner!'”
I found three commonalities throughout Canada: 1) War memorials 2) Globe & Mail Newspapers 3) An abundance of pornography. (Bus driver: “You writin’ a dirty letter?”)
And finally this…Contemplation of how extremely solid the earth is. Just try hitting it.
I took a bus up to Whitehorse, Yukon. (I didn’t hitchhike because I was scared of being left in the middle of nowhere and getting eaten by a bear.)
July 20: A 24-hour delay seems possible due to the massive bridge washouts – sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Throughout the journey, women – making up the majority of the population – sleep, smoke and drink without complaint. So I’ll smoke my way to sleep.
The silhouettes of the great mountains dominate the scenery. A dark black storm cloud approaches; hell is bound to break loose. The trees await in silence as the silver bus rushes on.July 22: I hiked alone up Grey Mountain, on the outskirts of Whitehorse, and wrote at the top: Humanity – a definition. Impossible. It is so assorted. There are some with no legs, some with no eyes – mentally and physically – and some with no heart. Some cloud their eyes with darkened glasses and some wear not what they need but what others say. (It goes on.)
July 24: I took a 26-hour bus ride down to Vancouver. Graffiti on Pink Mountain Inn: #1: Why did God give seagulls wings? So that they’d be able to beat the Indians to the dump. #2 Toking is like working here. The harder you suck, the higher you get.
July 15, Ride One: Saskatoon to North Battlefield (Souped-up Trans Am) Nice Indian guy who used to be a dealer; into motorcycles and Van Morrison.
Ride Two: North Battlefield to Peynton (Camper Pick-up) Old Indian man with weathered skin; lived on the reserve, very friendly. Ride Three: Peynton to Lloydsminster (Air-conditioned Oldsmobile) Singer with a thin half-beard. Doesn’t like Indians because they “cut holes in the side of the house so their horse can drink from the bath tub.”
Ride Four: Lloydsminster to Vermillion (Blue Phoenix) Mild-mannered driver who has worked and lived all over the country.
Ride Five: Vermillion to Edmonton (AMC Meteor station wagon) Quite political, doesn’t like sports,sausage buyer, has a water tower for sale.
After a visit to the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg and writing of “the gatherings of self-made gods separated by a golden rail and velvet curtain”, I continued west.
July 11, Ride Two: Winnipeg to Highway 16 Turnoff (Red pick-up truck) Part of a small convoy of Indians headed north. “Hey, back there, you want a smoke?”
Ride Three: Highway 16 to Regina (Blue Chevette) Jeff Gibbs on his way to Alaska. Was with the military in Germany, worked as computer programmer for Pershing missiles. Did acid on Check Duty. Derided quality of commercial gasoline as – ‘ass gas.” I spent two days in Regina where I met a couple in the park who had won a radio station contest and shared their fresh-caught salmon and case of beer, the man telling the story of almost being captured by a zombie witch cult.
July 13, Ride One: Regina to Wattrous (Old pick-up truck) Driver looked like a maniac – wild hair, stubble, weird look, dirty green shirt. “If you run out of money, you’ll just have to get some more.”
Ride Two: Wattrous to Saskatoon (Blue Meteor station wagon) Middle-aged woman with two small kids who made her turn around and pick me up. “You should write me to show me how well you’ve done.”
The Creator, for the Ojibway, is Kiche Manitou:
Young and old asked: Who gave to me the breath of Life, the beat of flesh? Who gave to me the beat of heart my vision to behold? Who? How to Bear the gift of sense of time, a place of wandering? How to Eagle came the gift of a glance of love, the flash of rage? How? Who gave to us the gifts we do not own but borrow and pass on? Who made us one? Who set the Path of Souls? Who carved the Land of Peace? Who?*
(*From Basil Johnston’s Ojibway Culture)
June 27, Ride Two: Pont du Quebec to St. Georges (Beige Subaru) Driver was an anesthesiologist: “The separatist movement meant nothing.”
Ride Three: St. Georges to outside Montreal (White Fury) Driver got stopped for speeding, used ‘judge’s card’ to get off. Gave me a pack of Matinee cigarettes. “We’re all on this earth together, man.” Stayed in Ottawa and wrote on “the silken void” and “First Impression Syndrome”.
June 29, Ride One: Ottawa to Carleton Place Turnoff (Cadillac) Took me on scenic route to see Ottawa River shoreline.
Ride Two: Carleton Place Turnoff to Pembroke (Dark red Rabbit) Saw space shuttle over apartment building, not too thrilled with “peace and love crap”.
July 1, Ride One: Pembroke to North Bay (Grey sports car) Driver had worked on the Trans Canada Pipeline.
Ride Two: North Bay to Ahmic Harbour (Brown VW Rabbit) Driver was well traveled across Canada; constant barrage on how many “twats he’d snatched”. Stayed at Ahmic Lake for two days at my family’s cottage.
June 21, Ride One: Kouchibouguac National Park camp site to park boundary (Pick-up camper) Middle-aged couple from Kentucky who loved Jiffy peanut butter.
Ride Two: Kouchibouguac National Park boundary for three kilometers (Pick-up truck) Rode in the back with barrels of some kind of acid.
Ride Three: To Chatham, NB (car) Driver believed in ESP, bringing your subconscious out; owns chain of furniture stores.
Ride Four: Chatham to Bathurst, NB (Beige Phoenix) Driver said, “Hitchhiking is a picnic.”
I helped build a gazebo for room and board at the hostel. Wrote about “the mists of ignorance” and “the guaranteed of continued submission to ignorance”.
June 23, Ride One: Hostel to St. Fleure, Quebec (1969 Mercedes) Cameraman for Radio Canada, Rimouski, apologized for poor English, loved his Mercedes.
Ride Two: St. Fleure to Metis, Quebec (Custom Deluxe red camper van) Weird laugh, missing side tooth. Stayed with my aunt in Metis, Quebec and attended a dinner party where Sammy carved and Cookie commented, “I bet you don’t live like this.”
A week into my cross-Canada hitchhiking trip, I was back from Newfoundland and crossing Nova Scotia again:
June 19, Ride One: Port Sydney to Kelly’s Mountain, Nova Scotia (Red heap) Driver was a wreck diver and told stories of sharks, whales and trout.
Ride Two: Kelly’s Mountain to Baddeck, NS (Green car) Beard driver with a red cap and sweaty chin.
Ride Three: Baddeck to Truro (Car) History high school teacher, who was boring.
Ride Four: Truro to Moncton, New Brunswick (Sports car) Driver was a former Mountie, now a bartender. Gave me beers and a quarter pound of cheese.
I walked into Moncton and watched a truck crash into a wall from above. Heavy rain, followed by sweltering heat. A Silver Mazda pick-up followed me around until I went into an A&W, dropped off my backpack and chased after him, but I couldn’t catch him or read the license plate. I went to the cop shop and was told, “I simply don’t know what to tell you.” I stayed at the Canadiana Motel and give my backpack as collateral.
June 20, Ride One: Moncton to Shediac (Family car) Driver, a painter by trade, gave me his last smoke and a Moosehead beer.
Ride Two: Shediac to Kouchibouguac National Park (Silver Honda) Driver had a comical laugh, and was anti-Wagner. “Bach’s Variations above all.”